the3million urge the former Foreign Secretary to stick to the facts and to mind his language when he mentions his immigration point system.
It feels like a re-run of the 2016 referendum with all the anti-immigration misinformation and language from that dreadful campaign reappearing. Boris Johnson vows to push on with his immigration points system and makes some sweeping and misleading comments.
Let’s start at the top.
1) Freedom of Movement is not an immigration system but alongside movement of goods, services and capital a vital part of the Single Market, driven by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
2) Freedom of Movement was entered into democratically, and has been part of what is now the EU since the Treaty of Rome way before the UK joined the EU. Also, sharing sovereignty on the issue with other EU member states is still democratic.
3) Freedom of Movement is not all about who comes into the UK but it is a reciprocal right to live and work in 27 other countries British citizens will lose once it is ended. A right currently enjoyed by 1.2 million British citizens in Europe.
To Mr Johnson’s next point: the myth of the unskilled immigrants that need ‘control’.
For that we must understand how the Government defines “unskilled”.
When talking about low/unskilled migrants two very important points need to be taken into account:
a) the Government’s definition of skill levels;
b) how the ONS statistics determine the skill level of migrants.
What is the Government’s definition of high skilled migrants – the ones Boris Johnson advocates more of?
This is clearly defined in the Tier 2 visa requirements. A salary of at least £30,000. In the Government’s eyes earnings = skill level.
A misconception in the ONS statistics is that occupation = skill level.
Within all migrant groups in the UK there is a strong mismatch between education/training and jobs they actually do.
The skill match is even more evident when looking at the proportion of high and low education between UK nationals and EU citizens. The EU citizen cohort is more likely to be university educated and less likely to be low educated.
What is clear is not that the EU citizens are unskilled but that the entry level jobs they do after coming to the UK are at unskilled level.
Which brings us to the last point Boris Johnson raises: apparent abuse of hospitality.
We will come to the language used by Mr Johnson later but first we will look at the facts.
It is unclear what Boris Johnson means by ‘abuse’ but if he refers to EU citizens abusing the social system or being workshy then he is clearly wrong. The employment rate of EU citizens in the UK has consistently been higher than the rate for UK citizens since the mid 2000s.
The other side of the coin equally shows that the unemployment rate of EU citizens in the UK has almost consistently been lower than the rate for UK citizens since 2007, and currently stands at 3.5%. Almost full employment.
Now that we have proven that Mr Johnson’s claims are unsubstantiated, let’s return to the language used by the former Foreign Secretary.
Control is something that you apply to something undesirable. By using this language Mr Johnson re-enforces the sentiment that immigration is something bad. The evidence shows the opposite is true.
B) “Abusing hospitality”
Hospitality is something you give to a guest. How many times have we been told by the Government that the 3 million EU citizens are welcome and part of the UK? That we are “their friends, their family, their neighbours and their colleagues”.
Therefore, Mr Johnson has now relegated us back to the status of guests.
Mr Johnson does not seem to understand that the UK is our home too. The Migration Observatory’s research shows that 69% of EU citizens have lived in the UK for more than 5 years. Relegating us back to guest status is hurtful in the same way as Theresa May calling us “queue jumpers”.
We are fighting for the citizens’ rights of EU citizens in the UK.
We have no position on the future immigration system post-Brexit. But we would like to urge Boris Johnson to stick to the facts and to mind his language. We will not allow a re-run of the vile 2016 referendum campaign.🔷
Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? We are grateful of your support, as we simply could not have campaigned for citizens’ rights over the last 24 months without you. If you can afford it, please become a paying supporter today to allow the campaign to continue for the next 24 months and beyond if necessary.
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